November 28, 2010

Nevermore: In A Nutshell

horizontal space "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore..."

Isobel isn't the type to stay up late pondering tomes of forgotten lore. She'd much rather be practicing her cheerleader jumps and hanging out with her friend Nikki. But when she is paired with the unsettling Varen for her English project, and he decides they are studying Poe, she is forced to become a little more familiar with the topic. But it seems like the more she finds out about Varen and Poe, the stranger her life becomes, and the harder it is for her to discern what is and is not reality...

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

One sentence sum-up: A story just creepy enough to make you want to keep reading.

My reaction: Nevermore was a captivating read. It starts out simply enough — goth and cheerleader must work together on an English project — and gradually builds as mysterious elements are introduced. Creagh balances her horror with humour, and for the most part she pulls it off; despite the fact that it's a homage to Edgar Allen Poe, the dark aspects of the story don't become too overpowering.

I loved all the connections to Poe. It's a creative premise, although I wish the book jacket description hadn't given quite so much away. I never officially studied his work in school, so apart from some familiarity with "The Raven" I wasn't aware of Poe's other poems, or his life generally. Now, I don't know how much Kelly Creagh took strictly from Poe's work, and how much was her own genius, but it doesn't really matter. Her book may spark an interest in Poe for some readers, who can look up all the specifics on their own, and for others, it can simply be an entertaining story.

Best aspect: Nevermore is one of the only books I've read that has a main character who is a cheerleader and yet who is likeable. Yay for breaking the stereotypes! It's become such a cliche to have the cheerleader be the nasty spiteful bully in a YA story. While I have no interest myself in cheerleading, I respected Isobel for the passion she felt for her sport and the desire she had to excel at it. (Although I did think that she didn't have the right to worry about her grade in English when it was so clear that she was *not* trying very hard to work on her project.)

I also admired Isobel for being able to switch friendships so quickly and so dramatically (Gwen and Varen are nothing like her former friends) without making a big issue out of it. Isobel stands up to her "friends" without even really thinking about it, and then later doesn't angst too much over losing Nikki and Brad and her former cheerleading life. She's not afraid to speak her mind, and I really liked that about her. I often felt like the reader was given such a good perspective of Isobel's mindset that it surprised me a few times when something would remind me that it is written in third-person.

Also, several of the other characters and their relationships with Isobel were well-sketched. Varen gets some great sarcastic lines, and he has the whole 'moody goth' persona down. He was pretty nasty to Isobel at the beginning, but I felt sorry for him once we see what he has to deal with at home. Gwen was a fabulous, fun character, Isobel's dad was written to be so very irritating, and I could tell that Isobel and her brother cared about each other.

If I could change something... Well, it did begin to frustrate me that neither Isobel nor Varen ever confided much in each other about the strange things that were happening. This isn't so shocking on Varen's side, since it goes along with his personality, but there were several times where Isobel would broach the topic but then Varen would have to leave or there would be some distraction. That was a little too convenient for me.

The book is long, and perhaps it did not need to be stretched out quite so far before the climactic scene, but the pacing never really put me off while I was reading.  I did find the climactic scene itself rather drawn out and kind of confusing; I had difficulty keeping track of everything that was going on and what the various characters' motives and goals were. Spoiler, highlight to read: Of course, this was partly because it is a dream sequence of events, and dreams are never too straightforward.

Also, I occasionally found the dialogue inauthentic, and I thought a few of the side characters (like Nikki and Alyssa) were a little flat.

Hopes for the sequel? I was under the impression that Nevermore was a stand-alone novel so when I came to the end I was thinking, "Um, WHAT? That can't be it!" Turns out it isn't, thankfully! Apparently it is set to be a trilogy. I'd like to learn more about both Reynolds and Ligeia, and hopefully see some resolution to Isobel and Varen's story. Also, some more of the sibling relationship between Isobel and her brother would be nice.

Plus, a little spoilery question I would love to get answered: How did Varen come to class that day while at the same time he was supposedly asleep? That is still puzzling me. Did he dream himself there? But if so, how was everyone able to see him? Or was it someone else posing as him?

In five words or less: engrossing, imaginative, and slightly disturbing


Isobel looked up. She stared past her reflection in the dresser mirror, her gaze fixing on her window. She waited, and the sound came once more. A soft and quiet tap. It was accompanied this time by a low scuffle, like the scrape of rough fabric against wood. 

She twisted around to stare at her window, ears straining.

The rustling came again, louder this time. There, beyond the lace of her curtains, under the tiny slit at the bottom of the shade, something moved.

Recommend for: anyone who likes Poe, goths, or creatures that go bump in the night.

Final verdict: 4 shooting stars

Author's website:


  1. Hey Danya! Can I just say that I LOVE your review style? I love the way you break everything down - so neat and organized :D I love love loved all the Poe references too, and thought the author was just so darn clever :P But you are absolutely right about Varen and Isobel--ohh me too, girl! For two characters who "fell in love" over the course of that really long book, they seemed to have some lapses in basic communication, lol. I guess it's supposed to be suspenseful and add to the intrigue...
    And now we WAIT for the next one. Ohh, it seems like forever!

  2. Thanks for your review. This one has been on my radar for a little while now. I don't think I'm going to start it until the whole series is published, but it's nice to read so many positive reviews until then.

  3. Great review! Poe scares me, so I was a little wary of this one - I'm glad to hear that aspect wasn't overwhelming!

  4. Excellent review, Danya! I loved Nevermore so much, but I think it's because I'm a lover of all things creepy and Poe ;)

    I have to agree with you on Varen and Isobel's relationship though...they didn't really communicate all that well haha

  5. Great review, Danya! I'm moving this one up on my tbr pile. I have to say that the cover is what made me put it on the lower scale but after reading quite a few positive reviews I'm looking forward to reading it soon.

  6. I really need to get this book I've seen some really good reviews on it lately. Thanks so much for yours.


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